A few weeks back, I found myself in Mexico board-testing the Rusty Keg—Wade Carmichael’s new pro model shorty (Joyride coming soon).
The board is different from most you’ll see on tour, with a condensed outline, flattish rocker, and extra fat tail. As I would come to learn, these qualities made the board extremely easy to ride. But that ease came at a cost: the Keg’s fat tail wanted to slide out of every turn.
If you watch Wade Carmichael’s surfing, you can actually see this in action. Wade’s hacks are ferocious and require total control, but they’re also more syrupy than they are stiff. When desired, Wade is able to push his carve past the breaking point and transform a standard arcing turn into a controlled slide. It really works for him.
Before putting any of this together, I paddled out on my Keg using the Vapor Core F6 fins, which are a neutral template in Futures’ new high-performance construction. As the name implies, Vapor Core fins are actually hollow in the center, making them the lightest fins on the market. Their carbon exterior provides an incredible strength to weight ratio, making them a set I can confidently use in just about any board.
Interestingly, this was not the case with the Rusty Keg. The F6’s felt uncharacteristically loose and skittery on the points, sliding out at crucial moments and providing little confidence in my craft. This I attribute entirely to the Keg’s inflated tail block, which is roughly one-third wider and twice as thick as that of my standard shorty.
So I had to improvise. Thus began the search for the biggest, stiffest fins in my arsenal.
It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon the recently-released Coffin Bros. template in a beautiful cherry-tinted fiberglass. This thruster set has heaps of rake—much like the widely adored AM1—meaning it’s designed for long, arcing turns. In fact, the entire template is quite similar the AM1. The only differences include the Coffin set being slightly larger than the AM1s (they’re the biggest “Medium” template Futures makes), and that its center fin is almost identical to the sides, whereas the AM1 has a noticeably smaller trailer.
The result is a fin that will hold in any situation—even when you’re running a small coffee table as your tail block. This fills a crucial role in any burgeoning fin quiver, and it certainly saved my relationship with the Keg.
Conner and Parker have been using these all-fiberglass fins for a long time now, and it’s great to see them finally get some recognition for their traditional approach. In a world where “modernization” (lighter, faster, stronger!) seems to be the only way forward, we love to see a classic fiberglass fin storm onto the marketplace.
What was old is now new again.